On 1 September 1948 in Gdańsk, the investigating judge A. Zachariasiewicz, as chairman of the District Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland, heard as a witness the person specified below. Having been advised of the criminal liability for making false declarations the witness testified as follows:
|Name and surname||Maria Cygulska|
|Age||38 years old|
|Parents’ names||Stanisław and Leonarda|
|Occupation||clerk in the Gdańsk Voivodeship Office|
|Place of residence||Gdańsk-Oliwa, Tetmajera Street 8, flat 3|
|Relationship to the parties||none|
At the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising I was in my flat at Słowackiego Street 76 in Warsaw, where I stayed until 30 August 1944 when the civilians were evacuated by the Germans. During that time I did not see any extraordinary events or acts of German terror on the Kaskada grounds.
After being displaced from my flat, I hid with a group of some 15 people on the Kaskada grounds in an abandoned basement shelter and I remained there for three days. From there I saw the insurgent attack that took place on the night of 30/31 August. The insurgents attacked in particular a German post in an elementary school on Kolektorska Street: they set the building on fire and retreated.
On 31 August, the Germans began to set on fire various buildings in Kaskada and the neighborhood, and as a result three wooden houses, one masonry house and several outbuildings burnt down in Kaskada alone. The house in which I had a flat was not set on fire. In the evening and at night the Germans retreated from Kaskada, and on 1 September in the morning we saw – as we were still hiding there – insurgents, who appeared there although there was no gunfight beforehand. Since that day, Kaskada and the neighborhood up to approx. 1 kilometer, including Marymont, remained in the hands of insurgents until noon of 14 September. At that time I could not really live in my extant flat as that place was under almost constant fire from German artillery from the direction of Powązki, and German aircraft was constantly flying over Kaskada and bombing chosen buildings, so in the immediate vicinity a block of flats at Gdańska Street 2 was entirely bombed out. In addition, I saw many times insurgents who were carrying their injured fellows across Kaskada, and as I know from the accounts of various people, these were the victims of insurgents’ sorties on the German posts. Injured women were also being carried across Kaskada, and these were the ones who were shot by the Germans as they were trying to leave Kaskada and reach Bielany.
In the afternoon of 14 September, the Germans attacked from the direction of Bielany and Powązki. After several hours of tank shelling, the insurgents began to warn civilians that the situation was dangerous, and then in 15–30 minutes they retreated in the direction of Żoliborz. As the insurgents were retreating, the Germans stormed into Kaskada. At that moment I was in a basement of the house in which I had a flat. At one point we heard people shouting in German in the yard near the entrance to the basement. They were asking who was in the basement. Olga Przyłęcka answered them in German, “Peaceful people are here.” In response they summoned us to leave the basement. Following this call, Olga Przyłęcka, Szymańska, Lewańska, and Szaleniec (a man) went into the yard, but – walking just behind them – I noticed from the corridor that the Germans had pointed automatic rifles at them and were killing them without a word. Then along with other people who were hiding with me, including my husband Paweł, my mother Leonarda Gmurczyk, Xenia Rabczewska, Natalia Rabczewska, Ewa Świderska and her mother whose name I don’t know, Brzezińskie (mother and daughter), and some other people whose names I don’t know, I retreated inwards, and at the same time a grenade was thrown into the basement and it exploded, but nobody was killed as we were shielded by several semi-walls. We kept silent and were thus saved, as the Germans waited for several minutes and left. As we were in so great a danger I didn’t manage to look closely at the uniforms of the Germans, so I didn’t know to which unit they belonged.
At dusk we, the survivors, decided to go to Żoliborz, and as we were walking we encountered Germans at Gdańska Street. It happened in the following way: as we had left an overgrown garden and were mounting a slope to reach a sidewalk (Gdańska Street), someone asked us in Polish from the direction of the sidewalk, “who’s there?” Someone who was walking at the head of our group, and we were walking in single file, answered, “Poles.” In response, someone said in Polish, “come up here, all of you.” And so we continued. At one point our group panicked, as Ewa Świderska, who was walking in the lead, began to run, explaining that there were German soldiers on the sidewalk. Then those of us who were at the end began to run as well, and the Germans opened fire from automatic rifles. My husband got shot then. Apart from myself, my mother, Ewa Świderska, Brzezińskie, and someone else who I cannot recall, managed to run away.
I hid, with my mother and Świderska, in the basement of a burnt-down garage next to the house in which I had a flat, and we remained hiding there until 26 September, when we were discovered about noon by “Vlasovtsy” [members of the Russian Liberation Army], who took us to their headquarters in Kaskada. They treated us kindly, heard our account of what we had been through, told us that they had been in Kaskada only for two days and that they took the SS men’s post, and described themselves as Don Cossacks. One of them spoke excellent Polish. Their commander, rewarded in jewelry, chose two Cossacks who led us at night through Bielany and Wawrzyszew and took us beyond the front line, from where we went to Babice undisturbed.
Świderska should be in Skarżysko-Wierzbnik now, as she inherited a pharmacy there. The address of Rabczewscy could be provided by Dymitr Rabczewski, an employee of the Municipal Water Supply and Sewage Company Board in Warsaw.
In 1945 I heard from Kornatowski, the owner of a garden at Gdańska Street, that on 14 September 1944 the Germans murdered eight people in his gardens, including an 8 year old child, and that their corpses were buried along with my husband’s body in Kornatowski’s garden.
I don’t know Kornatowski’s exact address.
The report was read out.